Community Advisory Boards: What Works and What Doesn't (Lessons from a National Study)
47 Am. J. Crim. L. 2 (2021)
23 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2021 Last revised: 2 Sep 2021
Date Written: June 25, 2021
Community Advisory Boards (“CABs”) are one of the most common forms of police-community engagement bodies in the country. Both progressive leaders of policing agencies and proponents of civilian oversight frequently cite a range of potential benefits of CABs to both police and the communities they serve. As a result, CABs continue to grow across the country. This interest in CABs has continued with insufficient study and evaluation of whether CABs actually play any meaningful oversight or community-engagement role. In order to assess this, the Policing Project conducted an in-depth, national study of CABs. The study revealed that in practice, many community advisory boards suffer from a number of deficiencies—some quite serious—that often inhibit their ability to achieve their intended purpose. Too often CABs are a result of pro forma efforts by policing agencies to signal a commitment to working with the public—without really working with the public. This Article presents the lessons learned from the study, and offers practical guidance on establishing and operating effective CABs.
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